Russian Junior Hockey Boss Dreams Big

Junior Hockey News – Russian junior hockey boss dreams big #top .wrapper .container h1 { color: #004080; }

Tel: 1-702-551-4654 | Mail: info@thejuniorhockeynews.com

  • Home
  • About TJHN
  • Advertise
  • Contact

The Junior Hockey News

COVERING THE WORLD OF JUNIOR HOCKEY

Visa Prepaid Card

Translation var translate_this_src = ‘en’;
Russian junior hockey boss dreams big

Dmitry Efimov is the caretaker of Russian hockey’s future.

A former executive with Coca-Cola and the yogurt maker Danone, Efimov is the commissioner of Russia’s Molodezhnaya Khokkeinaya Liga, or MHL, this country’s three-year-old major junior hockey league.

Efimov, 39, has a grand vision. He envisions a day soon when Russia will routinely enter hockey tournaments against Canada as the favourite, something that seems closer to happening after Russia’s recent victory over Canada at the world junior championship.

The key to making that happen, he says, is restoring Russia’s junior hockey program, which has been neglected over the past 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Four years ago, the Russian government endorsed the start-up of the KHL, a pro league rivaling the NHL. A year later, the KHL started the MHL with 22 teams. The MHL grew to 29 teams in its second season, and this year the league boasts 32 teams in a so-called A Group and 19 in a second-tier B Group.

“We’re up to 51 junior clubs, just nine behind the 60 that the Canadian Hockey League has now,” Efimov said in an interview in his Moscow office. “There’s really no end to our growth potential.”

Indeed, Russia is a sprawling country of 140 million people with a longstanding hockey tradition.

“We have so many cities of 1 million people or even 500,000 that don’t have a hockey team,” Efimov says. “Even Sochi, where they will play the Olympics, doesn’t have one. We’re basically telling people: You want to join? Join.”

Last summer, the MHL received a cold call from business leaders in Vilnius, Lithuania, who wanted to add a team there. (Clubs pay a $50,000 initiation fee for joining the MHL.) The league might also expand to Ukraine, Hungary and Bulgaria, Efimov says.

Efimov, 39, is slightly built and wears designer glasses with his hair neatly parted to the side. Several officials with international hockey federations said Efimov is a welcome new face for Russian hockey.

“He’s been educated overseas and doesn’t play the games that other Russians have over the years demanding payouts,” said a hockey federation president. “He didn’t go to Harvard but you’d think he did.”

Efimov did his undergrad degree at Moscow State University and his MBA at the University of Pittsburgh.

In three years, Efimov has attracted to the MHL sponsors such as Chevrolet, Reebok and Gillette and said his business plan involves establishing a trust with prospective sponsors who are used to dealing with political interference as a typical course of business.

“When we approach a company, we make it clear that if they want to leave us, they’re free to do that,” Efimov says. “There will be no phone call from the Kremlin saying they have to stay. The old ways of pressure and fear don’t work. We don’t want to be partners with anyone who doesn’t really want to partner with us.”

Efimov says Russian hockey is on the verge of a new golden age.

Some scouts have suggested that Russian forwards Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko could be the top two picks in the 2012 NHL draft. The last time that happened was 2004 when Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin went 1-2.

“It’s a controversial feeling,” Efimov says. “Obviously it would speak to the improving quality of our hockey and it’s something we can be proud of. But on the other hand, it means they’ll probably go to the NHL to play and they’ll be gone.

“Once these guys go to the NHL, we don’t see them. We can hardly watch on TV. They all start at 4 a.m. and even if you passionately love hockey, you have to go to work.”

Rick Westhead

Get your FREE extended auto warranty quote! Egnyte Instant FTP

Editors

  • Contact TJHN editors, or submit an opinion piece to the editors.

Writers

  • Contact TJHN writers, or apply to become a TJHN writer.

Sales

  • Contact TJHN marketing staff for your custom tailored marketing plan.

Story Submission

  • Submit a story to our staff that is outside of regular news submissions.

FAQ

Copyright © 2011 – All Rights Reserved – The Junior Hockey News

About The Author